Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to FOW

The summer of 1982.  We had recently graduated from high school and were full of excitement about starting college at Texas A&M in the fall.  I worked in an auto parts store and really didn't care too much because I knew I was walking away in the not too distance future.  At least one of our fish buds was a hay haulin' man during those summer months.  5 cents a bale is what they were paid and he used to sing, "She's a good hearted women in love with a hay-haulin' man".  Since I wasn't into country music it was bit before I knew what Waylin Jennings was actually talking about.

When it was time to leave for school the plan was simple.  My mom would drive me down to Texas in the Ford Granada and for my dad to fly down and meet us in Houston just before driving up to A&M.  Seemed like a good plan.  What I didn't know was that my mom had contacted every friend and family member between Sterling Park, and College Station and planned for us to stop in and some cases for a couple of days.  The good news was that MTV was just springing to life that summer and wherever I could find a television I was planted in front of the set.  The bad news was "An Officer and a Gentleman", had just been released to theaters and on the night of our first stop, in Bristol Tennessee, my mom and I went to the movies to see it together.  This, of course, is not the right movie to view with you mom.  Nevertheless, I survived.  

Our next stop was Huntsville, Alabama where we had lived for four years in the late 60's and early 70's.  We dropped in on both friends and family, and when with family I watched a lot of MTV.  Following the time in Huntsville we drove to Shreveport Louisiana and stayed with friends.  Then it was off to Houston where we again held up for a few days with friends and waited for my dad to arrive.  About all I can remember is attending Church on Sunday and  kneeling on some very painful knee boards, how crazy hot and humid Houston can be in mid August, and watching a lot of MTV.  

When my dad arrived we jumped in the car for the 90 mile drive, through the scrub oak savanna, up the Brazos river and into College Station, my new home for the next five years.

Let's hear a little bit about how you showed up for FOW fish buds.

Monday, January 31, 2011

fish Orientation Week

Two years before we donned the white belts and earned the right to be called Surge Butts, the young men in this room, hole as we had to call it, came together for fish orientation week…one of the most fascinating weeks of our lives.  We really were not sure what was in store for us.  But with the help of two juniors, our cadre, Mr. Dougherty and Mr. Gallagher, we joined 1,200 other incoming freshmen to learn about the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M. We learned the basics of what we would need to know to survive our first year.  Although we may look like a unified bunch by having fun together and drinking a few beers, I was 17 in this photo wearing the blue shirt and hiding behind the Miller High Life and Michelob bottles, we really didn’t know each other and true unity would not come until the fall.  Before then, we would be physically broken, we would sleep through countless classes, we would cry, we would leave the Corps of Cadets, one of us would write checks from another ones check book, and some of us would fail out of the University altogether.  

One of the first things we had to learn were our fish answers, there were only four.  “Yes Sir”, “No Sir”, “No excuse Sir”, and “Sir, not being informed to the highest degree of accuracy, I hesitate to articulate for fear that I may deviate from the true course of rectitude Sir.  In short Sir, I am a very dumb fish, Sir, and do not know Sir”.  This had to be recited in less than five seconds to avoid even more hazing at the hands of our upper classmen.

We also learned that an Aggie doesn’t lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do.  Correctly and fortunately the classmate who didn’t know about the stealing clause was discovered writing those checks from fish Colwell's checkbook and was sent home.  It took the rest of us some time to learn our place.  First we had much more to learn.

We learned how to march.  We learned how to eat like fish.  We learned how to hit a brace, the wall, and our faces.  We also learned how to whip out to upper classmen.  Whipping out is about hand-shakes and greetings and not about whipping out other parts of our anatomy…that part didn’t get much use the first semester…unless, of  course you were fish Edminster.

So Howdy fish buds.  I’m fish Muccio from Sterling Park Virginia taking Mechanical Engineering.  Whip out and tell us what you remember about FOW.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I Know Surge Butt

This picture was taken in the spring of 1985 at the main drill field on the campus of Texas A&M University.  It's a picture from "Final Review".  Those happy cadets, we call them Corps Turds, waited two long years to put on those white belts, hold their two index fingers together, whoop out loud, and of course say "Surge Butt".  All except fish Colwell, he's the third cadet from the right.  He knew Surge Butt when he was a freshman.  And that cost the rest of us a lot of time on our face, at a leaning rest as we referred to it in Old Army days.  And now it seems we are indeed old.  Twenty-six years later and Final Review is no longer held on the main drill field, it is held in Kyle Field.  The 55 plaques on the trucks of 55 trees that surround the main drill field are no longer able to witness this rite of passage.  I don't know if I'm sad about that...I do know that I am sad about something else.  These friends drifted away from me over the past 26 years.  Technology and the passage of time have reunited us this past week.  The cadet on the far right is no longer with us.  His name is Cliff Bland and he in fact passed in 1991... twenty years ago this weekend.  It was a twenty year memorial service conducted by his old unit to commemorate his sacrifice during the first Gulf War, at the Battle of Khafji, that sparked this impromtu reunion of buds in cyberspace.

The rest of the cadets in this picture, starting from the left are Blake, Vandewalle, Marek, Colwell, and Tribo.  These names were indelibly etched into my brain, yet until this week, were lost.  When you think about it, without the internet, this reunion could never have occurred.  And now, our email has exploded with war stories and old buds being located and all joining into the conversation.  Stories like this from Blake:

"...that was the Pontiac T-1000, the same car that we did six 360's on a wet night racing back for midnight yell practice. We hit the grass and mud median, popped both tires on my side. Then we tried to get out the passenger side but my door is in a foot of mud.  Cliff's door is now three and a half feet up in the air, we crawl out his side, two seconds later we are picked up by our Bonfire Buddies and we are off to midnight yell! That's our buddy Cliff! How about when Tribo and Marek were getting robbed in Ft Worth and Cliff is in the next room just beating on the walls! While Vandy and Caldwell blow up the yellow Datsun looking at tail! Now that was a Corps Trip!"

It would be a shame not to capture some more of the stories here, on this blog, for all time.  Then we can share and reflect on them over and over again.  So with this first blog, which I proudly dedicate to Cliff and another successful mid-night yell practice, let's get this cyber party started. 

But before I forget, here are a few of the newly minted Surge Butts from Viking-17. From left to right, Hoffman, Barroso, Bullock, Forman, and yours truly.  MIA from the picture are Wheat, Hammond, Aubuchon, Tevis, and McCaskill.